Google Generates 7g of CO2 Per Search Says Research

Research carried out by Alex Wissner-Gross from Harvard University shows that each typical search generates around 7g of CO2 which is roughly half what brewing a cuppa would cost

Google has been singled out as a mass CO2 producer because it accounts for the overwhelming majority of the 200 million internet searches carried out daily in the US (that's more than 500 million tons of CO2 per annum).

Google could be in even more trouble as Wissner-Gross also found out that a page with lots of multimedia generates on average 0.2g of CO2 per second. Google owns Youtube, the most popular video online website per annum.

The search company has already hit back at the claims saying that each search produces only 0.2g. A related calculation carried out by pegs that number between 1g and 10g depending on whether you have switched on or not.

In addition, Google said in a post on their website that they have built the most energy efficient data centers in the world and in fact each search on average consumes as little energy as the human body burns in 10 seconds.

Through its philanthropic arm,, the company has invested $45 million in "breakthrough clean energy technologies" and arguably, the company will save money (and earn cookie points) if it manages to keep power consumption and heat dissipation down.

This comes on the back of a report recently published by research analyst Gartner which found out that the IT industry worldwide accounts for as much CO2 as the airtravel industry.

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Our Comments

The are a few inaccuracies in the initial article published by the Times. Internet searches account for much more than 200 million queries per day. The figures published by the Times almost certainly account only for US traffic, not globally. As to whether Google poses a serious environmental problem, we think this sould be considered in perspective. A single cow produces up to 183,000 litres of the gas methane annually, which is equivalent to around 4.2 million litres of Carbon Dioxide.

Related Links

Powering a Google search


Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches


Google Searches Are Power Hogs


Are We Killing The Planet One Google Search At A Time?

(Washington Post)

Web searches wreck environment


Scientist Reveals Google CO2 Research; Blatently Puts Planet at Risk


'Carbon cost' of Google revealed


Hidden harm of google searches

(The Australian)

Google Search Generates 7g of CO2, says Study

(Search Engine Journal)